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PSYC 304 - Ch.7 - Chapter 7 Cognitive Development The...

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Chapter 7- Cognitive Development: The Piagetian Approach Cognition - all the higher-order mental processes by which humans attempt to understand and adapt to their world Discovering the mixture of competence and limitations that characterizes thought at different points in childhood is one of the two great challenges that a cognitive development researcher faces o Second is to discover how the limitations are overcome and how new forms of competence emerge Piaget’s Theory Piaget’s training included heavy doses of both biology and philosophy Studies identify such basic and important forms of knowledge o Also claim that these basic forms often take a long time to develop A basic principle in biology is that of organization o An organism is never simply a random collection of cells, tissues and organs o Always highly organized systems Essence of intelligence lies in the underlying organization o Takes the form of the various cognitive structures (ways to organize information to understand and remember it more effectively) that the developing child constructs All organisms adapt to the environment in which they must survive o Human intelligence is an adaptive phenomenon that may be a way we adapt o Adaptation occurs through the complementary processes of assimilation and accommodation Whenever we interact with the environment, we assimilate the environment to our current cognitive structures We fit or interpret it in terms of what we already understand As children develop, they construct qualitatively different structures that allow a
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progressively better understanding of the world o These define the Piagetian stages of development Sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational Cognition During Infancy: The Sensorimotor Period The sensorimotor period is the period of infancy, extending from birth until about age 2 Studying Infant Intelligence Positive side o Combines two attributes that are relatively rare in developmental research The observation of behavior in the natural setting The longitudinal study of the same children as they develop Limitations o A sample of three is a shaky basis for drawing conclusions about universals of human development Piaget studied his children The Six Substages Piaget divided the sensorimotor period into six substages What is important in a stage theory is not the age, but the sequence —the order in which the stages come—which is assumed to be the same for all children Substage 1: Exercising Reflexes (Birth to 1 month) Newborn’s adaptive repertoire is limited to the simple, biologically provided reflexes Important because they are the building blocks from which all future development proceeds Development occurs as the behaviors are applied to more objects and events (assimilate) , and as their behavior begins to change (accommodate) Substage 2: Developing Schemes (1 to 4 months) Sensorimotor schemes
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